In the last three years, there have been 81 honour killings in the state.

In spite of court order TN does not have an SC Commission do politicians care for DalitsImage: Sankar and Kausalya (Left) and Gokulraj (Right)
news Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 18:15

On Wednesday, three days after the brutal murder of Sankar, a Dalit who dared to marry a Thevar girl in Tamil Nadu, members of the state unit of the National Scheduled Caste Commission visited the family of the victim to hear the story and recommend action.

But there is little to be expected from the well-meaning members of the NSCS. They will now send a report to their headquarters, far away in Delhi, after which the commission will recommend action. The chances of implementation of the commission's orders are even more remote, say observers.

For a Dalit rights activist, it is a matter of shame that Tamil Nadu, a state which prides itself on the Dravidian social justice movement, does not have a State SC Commission like other states. And this, in spite of an order from the Madras HC.

Sankar’s death is one among several murders of Dalits which have happened in the past few years. The murders of Gokulraj and Ilavarasan are two other cases in point.    

In July 2015, after the Gokulraj murder, the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) had made recommendations to the Tamil Nadu government regarding atrocities against scheduled castes. The situation, evidently, was dire.

It stated, "Tamil Nadu is one of the topmost five states in the country in terms of high rate of atrocity committed against the Scheduled Castes. The police administration needs to be proactive to prevent the atrocities."

It also added, "The rate of conviction in atrocity cases is only 10 percent and is not satisfactory comparing the national average of 30 percent. Corrective steps are required to be taken by the state government to enhance the conviction rate."

Though there is no SC commission, a government department called the Adi Dravidar Welfare Department (ADWD) exists. Talking to The News Minute, S Sampath, President of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) said, "The functioning of Adi Dravidar department is not good. No separate commission for scheduled caste is there in the state.”

"SC commission is the oldest commission created by the Central government of India. Every state should create a state commission but Tamil Nadu is reluctant to create one. The government has created all other commissions in the state," said VCK General Secretary D Ravikumar, who has also raised this issue on the floor of the state assembly when he was an MLA.

TNUEF wants an independent state Schedule Caste commission. "It should be independent and judicial power should be given to it. It is our demand and we are fighting for it," said Sampath.

The daily atrocities against scheduled castes are continuing, he said. "In our survey, we found out that there are 87 forms of untouchability and 28 forms of atrocities existing in Tamil Nadu. In almost all the villages, various forms of untouchability are prevailing," said Sampath.

Moreover, honour killings are increasing in the state. "In the last three years, there have been 81 honour killings in the state. In the last few years alone, Ilavarasan, Gokulraj and recently, Sankar," he said.

In 2014, the Madras High had asked the state government to constitute a state commission for Scheduled Caste. But that was not adhered to, by the state government.

According to NCSC, more than 20 percent of the population in Tamil Nadu are scheduled castes. 

 S Lenin Raja,  President, TNUEF, South Chennai, feels that a state commission is required for such a population. "After repeated discussions, the state is still not ready to form a commission. When they speak in the assembly also they just talk about the welfare schemes.  But when the issue of honour killing was raised in the assembly, Finance Minister O Panneerselvam said that there is no honour killing in Tamil Nadu," said Lenin.

"NSCS also highlighted the backlog of vacancies. For most of the reserved vacancies, they will say that there is no equipped person from SC/ST for that job and after sometime, it will become a backlog vacancy, " said Lenin. “To monitor all these issues and take action against it, a commission is required. The commission should have the power to intervene and punish the culprits, he said.      

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